Paddy Crewe's My Name is Yip is shortlisted for the 2023 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize.
Yip Tolroy and his fiery Mama run the general store in Heron's Creek, Georgia. An uneventful life, until gold is discovered nearby and Yip is caught up in a bloody, grievous crime forcing him to flee. On the run, friendless and alone, he meets Dud Carter a savvy but unlikely companion. Together, they embark on a journey that thrusts them unwittingly into a world of menace and violence, of lust and revenge. And, as Yip and Dud's odyssey takes them further into the unknown - via travelling shows, escaped slaves and the greed of gold-hungry men - the pull of home only gets stronger. But what will they find there if they ever return?
About the Author:
Paddy Crewe was born in Middlesbrough. He studied at Goldsmiths, University of London. His first novel, My Name is Yip, was longlisted for the 2023 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award.
WNSF: What does adventure writing mean to you? Would you have considered yourself an adventure writer before being shortlisted for the Prize?
Paddy: I’m not sure I’ve ever considered myself to be any kind of writer. Hopefully, every story I write will have it's own unique complexion, and if that means it leans more toward a particular style of writing than another, then so be it. I certainly recall wanting My Name is Yip to have the kind of propulsive, page-turning quality of some of the adventure stories I’d read as a child; I wanted to try and capture that innocent wonder of being pulled along by a story.
WNSF: Are there any particular books or authors which have made a lasting impact on you?
Paddy: I remember reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown not long before starting My Name is Yip and feeling utterly compelled to write about America in those strange and tragic times. I just needed to find my own story to tell.
WNSF: Can you tell us about any adventurous experiences in your life? Have they influenced you as a writer or your writing?
Paddy: There wasn’t much in the way of adventure growing up in a small village in the North east of England, or at least none that could ever have had the power to shape me as a writer. But – and perhaps this is only true of me – being raised in a very safe, pleasant environment encouraged a rich interior life that was largely characterised by the worry or fear that this sense of normalcy was going to be suddenly, violently uprooted. I think a lot of good writing, and maybe adventure writing in particular, thrives on the knowledge that just around the corner some disruptive force could be on its way.
WNSF: My Name is Yip could be considered to be historical fiction, why did you choose to write about this time? Or this particular place in this time?
Paddy: America in the early nineteenth century was still almost entirely lawless. There seemed to be this incredible sense of freedom, but also of imminent danger. Everything was so mutable: people from all over the world were arriving; towns would spring up in the space of a few months and then be gone a year later. I wanted to set my story in a place where love and friendship and violence could all flourish together. Where an entire lifetime could be lived in just a few furious months or years.
WNSF: We find that adventure often crosses into other genres, including crime and historical fiction. What kind of books do you like to read?
I never like to limit what I read. One of the most pleasurable things before beginning a new project is being as indiscriminate as possible with my reading – I simply open a book and see where it leads me next.
The winner of the 2023 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize will be revealed at an awards ceremony on 18th October 2023. Support Paddy and buy a copy of My Name is Yip: